Runner Therapy: OTS or Overtraining Syndrome
Do these symptoms sound familiar?
- Fatigue or general malaise
- Lack of interest, lack of energy
- Poor performance
- Higher than normal blood pressure and/or heart rate, especially heart rates failing to recover as well as usual
- Low immunity to colds/flu
- Difficulty concentrating/hazy feeling
Overtraining syndrome is exactly what it sounds like. It is a group of medical symptoms with a non medical etiology: training too hard.
Sometimes you may not think you are doing too much. A 40 mile run week may be your normal even, but when your performance for the same activities or distances seems to decline, this may be exactly what you are experiencing. It isn’t always relative to what you have been doing, but is generally relative to your running schedule. The highs and lows can correspond to these crappy feelings one week or even two weeks later. It can especially occur after a peak, such as the peak right before your taper or during your taper.
The treatment is rest, electrolyte balance and more rest. Don’t underestimate getting extra hours of sleep, napping and/or just sitting to read or watch a movie. Even if you are not physically asleep your body can relax. Its imperative you keep your heart rate down, and sleeping or resting are the best ways to do this.
It is also imperative you stay out of the gym. Don’t think that just because you can’t run you need to crosstrain or weight lift. Exactly the opposite. You need to rest.
A hallmark of OTS is the breakdown of muscle cells greater than usual. So exercising, especially weight lifting, can cause further breakdown and limit your recovery.
Getting adequate rest and fluid replacement is the best thing you can do to ensure a speedy recovery!
What do you do to make sure you have enough rest in your schedule? What tips do you have for avoiding OTS? How often do you take a break?
(Marisa, a MS PT SCS ATC, is a member of iRunnerBlog’s team and writes the Runner Therapy column, she is a physical therapist in private practice in midtown NYC called Dash Physical Therapy. She one of only a dozen or so physical therapists in the state of NY to be board certified in sports.)